“Pandemic Postscript” and more – Poetry by Amy Uyematsu
by Amy Uyematsu. Posted April 3, 2021.
Introduction: I’ve been writing poetry since my involvement in the early Asian American movement of the late 60s. Japanese-American and Asian-American themes have been important in much of my writing through the decades. While I also take on many other topics – among some of my favorites, are stones, women, culture – my anger about racism and white supremacy continues to fuel poems. During the pandemic, that anger has become rage as we’ve witnessed more racist killings of blacks and the global Black Lives Matters protests, and as we Asian Americans are experiencing anti-Asian hate at an unprecedented level. As a writer, I’ve been propelled to write protest pieces and rants about what’s going on. “Pandemic Postscript: Or Are We Becoming Too Visible” was written back in April, 2020, when anti-Asian acts were just beginning to be publicized. “THIS IS,” a rant against white supremacy and white domestic terrorism, was written a week after the January 6 insurrection. Back in 1968, the Third World Liberation Front was a leading force in students getting ethnic studies and more relevant education at San Francisco State. That Third World unity – coalitions between people of color and progressive whites – is as necessary as ever; in “Viral Briefs for the Farce of July,” I try to convey some of our common history as people of color.
Amy Uyematsu provided one additional poem for this post. We wish to thank Roger Shimomura for allowing us to use his illustration, “Eighty-Three Dirty Japs.”
– for Roger Shimomura’s “Eighty-Three Dirty Japs”
this is no buttercup happy sun poem no yellow happy faces to paste all over my room
I still pay attention to yellow light warnings my young life unfolding along that yellow peril trail
just like you, Roger, always the foreigner the ugly jap strange how ugly can still mean invisible
the slitty eyed general the snake with thick horn-rimmed glasses the eunuch commie spy
charlie chan and fu man chu are just the jekyll and hyde of the same yellow bellied alien
and piss-yellow terror can be seen in the eyes of that white trucker in redwood city
who tells me there’s nothing worse than a pregnant jap but at least he’s better
than the yellow fetish freaks who can’t get enough of us sexy geisha and china girls
no matter if we’re from vietnam korea or san francisco we lotus lovelies are all the same
just listen to that blue-eyed boyfriend who swears I look like hong kong born Kathy
though she’s 5 inches taller with eyes pointing down and mine slanting up
yellow lurks in hordes like the 83 of us dirty japs mugging for the camera
but sure as the law which put Roger and Grandpa and Auntie Alice in camp
there’s no way to tell the good yellows from the bad and I’ll be ready the next time
we’re misnamed the enemy yes the first to line up with my fellow
genghis and samurai invaders raising our yellow devil fists
Thanks for breathing life into my painting Amy.
A tremendous poet reading stunning work. The truth rings in Amy Uyematsu’s poems with a new and compelling clarity.
I am glad someone is writing about anger. Anger doesn’t get good press, so I am glad you are doing so.